Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tilting At Windmills

All due respects to Don Quixote, I did a little tilting at windmills of my own on I-70 headed to the East Coast. After playing leapfrog for a while with these "blades" for giant wind turbines that were headed in the same direction as we were, we all of a sudden all decided to get off on the same road side rest stop. The "big guys" had a little trouble making the turns so I turned my flashers on and ran back up interference for them until they got set up in the parking lot. We got out and chatted for a while. Many times we had seen twin blades (smaller than these but still darn huge) on the highways. The drivers were glad for the "assistance" off the highway- after all these blades are 140 feet long each. The tractor trailers that haul them go for a mere 150K and the blades themselves hit the scales at 350,000.00 each-give or take a couple bucks. We've been chomping at the bit to get this up close and personal with them and find out a little about values and make-up and so on. They are made of fiberglass. They flex like a graphite trout fishing rod, which is a little weird when you are driving right behind them. I can't think of words to describe what it is like when a truck carrying one passes you on the highway. Scary the first time. Awesome the next. And after that you feel more like tagging along that avoiding the parade.

So now we know that the super large size windmills we see all across the country weight in at upwards of a cool mil. Wow. There are literally thousands of them at some locations so there is some big money working here. The driver was telling me that despite the cost, they generate their cost in energy in pretty short order. Judging by how many of them we see now, I have no reason to doubt that. I wish they were under a thousand as far as cost goes so I could put one up at my next house. Dream on! Despite the inevitable label as "green" energy, environmentalists, especially on the LEFT coast, are fighting their very use saying that they are endangering birds, especially birds of prey. While I have no inside track to this information, I admit it is hard to see how that can be the case- at least the case other than incidental or anecdotal. It was a gray day and the pictures lack definition, but come on- these blades are eight feet wide or more excepting at the tips. They are fairly visible, yes? These birds we are worrying about can see the eye of a mouse a mile away. Who will look me in the face and tell me they cannot see this blade which is moving relatively slowly in a regular and predictable arch until they have committed suicide by flying directly into it. Hard to imagine. Any way, what some see as a blight on the landscape, we see as beautiful, graceful, and elegant statuary that just happens to produce electricity in abundance with little down side. No one ever thought to tell Dorothy's family to take down the windmill in the cornfield before she, Toto - and it- all flew off to OZ. Which, come to think of it, is pretty much where we met the windmills. Give or take a cross country mile!

No comments: